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Prion. 2018 Mar 4;12(2):109-116. doi: 10.1080/19336896.2018.1458573. Epub 2018 Apr 20.

Prolonged follicular helper T cell responses in ME7 scrapie-infected mice.

Kim S1, Han S2,3, Kim T1, Nam J1, Kim YS3,4, Choi EK2,3, Kim MY1.

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a Department of Bioinformatics and Life Science , Soongsil University , Seoul , Korea.
b Department of Biomedical Gerontology , Graduate School of Hallym University , Chuncheon , Korea.
c Ilsong Institute of Life Science, Hallym University , Anyang , Korea.
d Department of Microbiology , College of Medicine, Hallym University , Chuncheon , Korea.


We previously reported that mice intracerebrally inoculated with the mouse-adapted scrapie strain ME7 have markedly diminished T zones in the spleen due to the decreased expression of CCL19 and CCL21. In addition, follicular dendritic cell networks in germinal centers were larger in ME7-infected spleens compared to uninfected spleens. As an extension of that study, we set out to determine how ME7 infection affects spleen structure and follicular helper T (Tfh) cell responses in mice. For this study, mice were intraperitoneally inoculated with brain homogenate of the ME7 inoculum and spleens were analyzed 50, 130, and 200 days after inoculation and compared with those from uninfected mice. The result showed that ME7- infected mice had increased Tfh cell responses which were maintained until end-stage prion disease. Although CD4 T cells decreased in white pulps, they increased in germinal centers, and expressed higher levels of the Tfh-related genes, such as Bcl6, Il21, Cxcr5, Icos, and Pdcd1. In addition, ME7-infected spleens had increased numbers of CD4 memory T cells. These data indicate that although ME7 infection led to impaired splenic white pulp structure, CD4 memory T cells were increased and Tfh cell responses were required and prolonged to provide help for the replication and accumulation of pathogenic prion protein in germinal centers.


ME7; follicular helper T cells; germinal centers; prion; spleen

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